Can Banks Stop the Digital Technology Surge?

Digital Technology Noticed that more and more online businesses today have started to accept Bitcoin as payment? If you have, then you would be aware of the fact the digital technology surge—including the rise of Bitcoin as a payment method, poses a real threat to traditional banks. What is the threat posed by technology to the banks and can they stop the digital technology surge? Let’s find out!

Technology has led to unprecedented change—with the internet and smart phones revolutionizing the banking landscape. As a result, banks are in a conundrum today and soon, the entire baking value chain will be impacted. Technology has diminished the barriers to market entry—making competition tough for banks that would previously have no problems fending off competitions while dealing with regulation at the same time. The marketplace has changed considerably over the past decade or so and the banks are ill-equipped to deal with these changes.

Why Banks Resist Digital Transformation

While they acknowledge the need for it and have even exhibited a keen understanding of the digital landscape, banks are yet to embrace digital transformation wholeheartedly. There are 101 reasons for the banking industry’s hesitation to move towards digital transformation.  Often exacerbated by past mergers & acquisitions activity and a subsequent failure to assimilate, several complex intertwined processes have grown naturally within the back office. At the same time, acting as an inhibitor of business change and agility, the existing technology is a massive cost burden.

The above has led to a situation where an average of over 70% of all IT budget of banks goes towards keeping the existing systems ‘operational’—leaving little behind for the digital transformation of the banking operations.

The Need for Change

Banks have been resistant to digital transformation till now but this will have to change soon and there’s good reason for it. Today, a variety of tech-savvy rivals are posing unprecedented competitive threats to banks—including established banking brands. While the industry has managed to fend off such threats in the past, it won’t be able to do that anymore. Many of the protections that banks had in the past are no longer valid.

Today, a variety of online and mobile channels can be used for facilitating customer acquisition, servicing and retention. Additionally, recent scandals and failures have tarnished the reputation of the banking industry somewhat. No longer do customers trust banks blindly or like they did in the past. The problem for the banks is further exacerbated by technology giants such as Google and Apple that offers financial services to people. Today, Apple, Google and other-technology based companies have access to the customers of traditional banks thanks to the payment innovations brought forth by non-banks that enhance the customer experience.

With the growth of cashless payments via smart phones and computers, banks can no longer use ATM and other basic technology-driven banking services to differentiate themselves from the competition. It is no secret that new digital technologies will drive the business model as banking becomes more mobile and virtual.

The ability to create a virtual, lean, efficient banking organization that does not have the same problems as the more established names is what these technologies provide new entrants with. With this, scalability and flexibility is enhanced—simplifying products launches and enhancements.

The Banking Industry Faces a Major Threat from Technology Giants

Since they provide easy-to-use applications that have impact almost every aspect of traditional banking, fintech companies are the primary ‘technological’ threat that the banking industry has been focusing on. By combining digital technology with advanced analytics, fintech companies have provisioned advanced banking technology but they’ve had problems achieving scale—forcing them to ultimately partner with the traditional banks. This is probably the biggest reason technology giants and not fintech companies are the biggest threat to the banking industry.

Today, technology-based companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are giving increased competition to traditional banks. By carrying out more core functions, technology giants are undermining the value proposition of banks and insurers—even at a time when these institutions are putting increase competitive pressure on the technology firms.

There are three capabilities that the technology based companies are using to differentiate themselves from the financial institutions: advanced analytics, customer-facing artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing. Compared to the banking organizations, technology firms such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook are far more proficient at these capabilities. And, this is a major reason many banking institutions are partnering or trying to partner with the technology giants for the provision of some core functions. An example of this is the countless financial services provided by Amazon AWS to organizations such as Capital One, American Express, NASDAQ, Stripe and Bankinter.

Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies are Another Potential Threat for Banks

Off late, there has been increased interest in Blockchain—the distributed ledger technology serving as the basis for cryptocurrency. Recently, one of the cryptocurrencies enabled by blockchain reached $10,000 valuation and this is expected to increase over the next year or so. The blockchain and cryptocurrencies are a real threat to banks as they have an intrinsic value and are not regulated by any government.

The appeal of the blockchain and bitcoin is too good of an opportunity for most people to pass on and this includes the customers of traditional banks. More bitcoin and blockchain companies are expected to emerge in the near future and if the banking industry does not take measures to counter this threat, then it won’t be long before banks become a thing of the past.

A digital technology surge is threatening to make banks irrelevant in the future and if the banking industry does not do something quick to deal with this threat, this may well happen.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Black Friday – Record Online Sales

Black Friday In the U.S and some other countries, Black Friday is one of the most awaited days of the year—mainly due to the massive price off items on the day. Most people delay buying what they want for weeks or even months just so they can buy it on Black Friday—for a discounted price of course. No wonder, sales of retail items soar on the day and this was evident this year as well. Not only did people throng to retail stores to buy all they desired, they also helped create a new online sales record!

In August, Forrester Research Inc—an American market research company, forecasted that holiday sales in 2017 will increase from $115 billion in 2016 to $129 billion. The actual figure was higher and a major reason for this was the record Black Friday online sales. Data unveiled by the retail intelligence unit of Salesforce—an American cloud computing company, shows a 24% increase in Black Friday online sales from the previous year. Compared to the $3.34 billion the previous year, online Black Friday sales this year reached an impressive $5 billion.

According to Salesforce, the online Black Friday orders placed using a desktop or laptop computer were 49% while 42% of the orders were made via a smartphone. 9% of the orders were placed through other devices. This is the first time in history that the online orders generated on Black Friday were less than half of the overall orders placed, representing a clear shift in the preferred shopping way of consumers.

Where the Money Went

Spending $5 billion within 24-hours, American shoppers created a new online sales record. According to Adobe Digital Insights, most of this spending or 80% of it was done at the 100 largest retail websites of the country. According to Amazon—a digital retail giant, orders rolled in at record levels on Black Friday. For instance, over two hundred thousand toys were sold online during the first few hours of the day—five to be precise. With most people preferring online shopping on Black Friday, the sales of the brick and mortar stores was impacted—with foot traffic at stores being 1% less than what it was the previous year.

According to Adobe, of all the Black Friday visits to retail sites and the online revenue generated on the day, 54.3% and 36.9 % respectively occurred on mobile devices. The American software company further revealed that tablets’ conversion rates on the day increased by 13% from the previous year while there was a 16.5% increase in the same for smartphones. As per the data of Adobe, the AOV was $135. However, Monetate—an American software company that offers personalized solution to brands, did a little better in this regard with AOV of $142.86.

According to Monetate that tracked two hundred million digital touchpoints across smart phones, tablets and desktops on Black Friday and Thanksgiving, its desktop AOV of $173.02 was the best of the lot. The company also reported a 30% increase in its mobile page viewership from the previous year’s Thanksgiving. Salesforce reports smart phones accounting for sixty percent of retail websites traffic—a 7% increase from the previous year. The cloud computing company extracted the numbers by tracking the online behavior of over 300 million shoppers. In a blog pertaining to sales on Black Friday, Salesforce revealed that the shoppers aren’t just browsing on phones, they are placing their orders from them as well—the 42% online orders placed via smart phones being a testament to that.

As already mentioned, e-commerce businesses experienced a 24% increase in Black Friday sales this year. And, the combined growth for Black Friday and Thanksgiving this year was 26%. However, the Black Friday stats don’t end there—there is more to come.

More Black Friday Stats

According to Shopify—an ecommerce giant, over five hundred thousand merchants that employ its services, this year performed the best they’ve ever done on Black Friday. Beating last year’s $555,716, over $1 million sales were made through Shopify each minute. This was revealed in an announcement by the company. According to Shopify, this year the percentage of mobile devices used to place orders with it on Black Friday were 66%–an increase of 8% from the previous year.

Performing brilliantly across all platforms, the Black Friday and Thanksgiving online sales of Rakuten Marketing were as good as those of the companies mentioned above. According to the company, it experienced a 23% overall online revenue growth this year on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. The company further revealed its mobile revenue for the week: Sunday to Friday, grew by 43% this year—with AOV and purchases on smart phones up 7% and 34% respectively.

According to Rakuten, most of the purchase and sales activities on Thanksgiving and Black Friday happened during the afternoon. Studying ad engagement and click-through rates, the company discovered the aforementioned-activities peaked in the week leading to the holiday—with ad engagement and CTRs increasing by 111% and 154% respectively. The company says that consumers started searching and researching for products in advance before the holidays.  The trend of record online sales continued to Cyber Monday not just for Rakuten, but for all of the companies mentioned.

As far as holiday sales go, this year has been a year of records. In 2017, Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday records were broken. As seen above, online shoppers shopped almost impulsively on Black Friday, contributing to $5 billion sales on the day. Whether this record will be broken next year or any time soon remains to be seen but one thing is for sure: people have completely warmed up to the idea of making their holiday sales online.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Best Laptops and Hybrids For 2017 Holidays

Best Laptops 2017Looking for a Christmas Gift for a loved one? If yes, then laptops and hybrids is an option you may want to explore.  In fact, the former is the go-to gift if you are searching for a present for a student, a college grad, or someone requiring a tech update. Here are the best laptops and hybrids for 2017 holidays!

Whether it is the affordable ASUS X555LA, the good-looking 13-inch MacBook Pro, or the next-gen Surface Pro, laptops make some of the best gifts that you can give to anyone this Christmas. Here, we reveal not just the best laptops, but also the best hybrids for 2017 holidays. So, without wasting any further time, let’s get down to business.

Lenovo Ideapad 510

A powerful and stylish laptop, the Lenovo Ideapad 510 is the first piece of tech on our list. You can use the laptop to run multiple applications at the same time if you choose between the 4GB and 12GB RAM models. From 256GB to 1TB, this laptop is available with a variety of hard drive sizes. Additionally, some options come with dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 940MX graphics. Currently, this laptop is being offered at a generous price at several different places. So, you may want to perform a quick search for it.

ASUS X555LA

If you look at it from afar, you may mistake the ASUS X55LA for a MacBook Pro. If this doesn’t reveal the quality of this laptop, then I don’t know what will. However, since its much cheaper than the MacBook Pro, you shouldn’t expect the ASUS X555LA to have a plastic body as sexy as that of the latter. Nonetheless, there is a lot to look forward to including a mammoth 1TB hard drive, 4GB of RAM and a range of ports.

The cheapest version of this laptop has an i3 processor. However, by a little extra, you can upgrade to a powerful i5 model. Boasting a 15.6-inch full HD screen, ASUS X55LA is equipped with a DVD writer. The laptop is just a tad heavier than an Ultrabook despite having a numeric keypad and a large display.

Microsoft Surface 4 Pro

Looking for a Hybrid? Then there is nothing better than the Microsoft Surface 4 Pro. This piece of tech comes with an integrated kickstand, a full-blown Windows 10 version and an optional keyboard attachment, making it a great option for students and creative professionals. The only con of this tech is its premium power. But, if you’re willing to spend what the Surface 4 Pro costs, the expect a laptop with a power—a lot of it.

Apple MacBook Pro

Get ready to welcome the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar if you want the best laptop from Apple. The Surface Book 2 may or may not be more powerful than the MacBook Pro (something that Microsoft claims), but it is definitely more expensive than the latter at the starting level. But, being cheaper than the Surface Book 2 isn’t the only accomplishment of the MacBook Pro. It has a lot more to offer with the Touch Bar—a thin OLED display at the keyboard’s pinnacle, being the most valuable offering. Using the bar, you can perform a number of functions including logging in with your fingerprint and getting word suggestions automatically as you type. Other things to expect include 256 GB to 1 TB storage, an 8 GB RAM and a super-fast performance.

ASUS Chromebook FLIP

If you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook with premium Chromebook specs, then ASUS Chromebook FLIP is the way to go. Offering premium Chromebook features at an affordable price, the stylish ASUS Chromebook FLIP is an excellent choice for students and people who work from home. The Chromebook Flip comes with a full 108p display, a USB-C port, backlit keyboard, touchscreen, and an Intel Core processor. Once you get this piece of tech, expect a tactile keyboard and an elegant tablet mode.

HP Stream 14

This is one of the cheaper options in the market. So, if you’re looking for something basic such as document editing and internet browsing, then the HP stream 14 is a good option for you. An affordable laptop, Stream 14 comes with a Windows 10 operating system and a 14-inch screen.

Microsoft Surface Book 2

Don’t mind paying top buck for a laptop? Then the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is one of the best laptops you will find today. Featuring a 13.5-inch store, the Surface Book 2 is worthy of all the praise that it gets. After all, it is one of the most powerful hybrids in the world. To make the daily tasks easy for you, the Surface Book2 is equipped with some powerful components. Additionally, you will find some fun features such as a video editing and light gaming.

Designed to last, the Surface Book 2 has excellent battery life and can be used as either a laptop, or a power-packed tablet. In addition to the 13-inch laptop, a 15-inch version of the Surface Book 2 is also available. Not only does this version boasts a larger screen than the 13-inch model, it is also more powerful. You may want to look at other hybrid options if you are on a tight budget.

Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming

Have a gamer in your family or among your friends’ circle? Then gift them the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming. Built specifically for gaming, this laptop is the answer to most gamers’ prayers. However, its price is on the higher side. So, you may want to think twice before buying this laptop.

There have it—the 8 bets laptops and hybrids for 2017 holidays. Want more options? Get in touch with us today!

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Gadget-Bag Pairings: How Cool Are They?

Gadget BagsStill carry around your laptop or other gadgets in a briefcase? If yes, then you need to wake up from your deep slumber, smell the coffee and say hello to 2017 way of carrying gadgets. Stop living in the 1990s and consider these gadget-bag pairings for carrying around your laptops and some other gadgets!

Sorry to say this but you’re stuck in ancient times if you still use those ugly, black briefcase type tech bags for carrying around your laptop or other gadgets. Today, our lifestyles are such that we ‘have’ to carry around our stuff including our gadgets with us everywhere we may go. The good news is that today there are gadget-bags made specifically for this purpose.

The popularity of gadget bags is increasing each day. The reason for this simple—compared to a briefcase or a hand, a gadget bag is more convenient and can pack more stuff in it. Not only that, there are some multi-purpose gadget bag that can be used for both carrying around stuff and keeping your devices charged. If that isn’t enough for you, then you may want to consider the aesthetic appeal of these bags.

High-end luggage, gadget bags are incredibly hip and they are sure to win you a glance or two from passerbys. So, if not for their utility, consider the following gadget bags for their awe-inspiring looks. We’re sure that you will buy at least one of these for your use.

Knomo Audley

A gadget bag that looks somewhat like a book a modern day female doctor would carry, Knomo Audley is a vintage bag that pairs well with Asus ZenBook 3 Deluxe, a lightweight and visually appealing bag. Big enough to carry all the necessities, this gadget bag pairing has a sleek design, with the fabric-lined interior of the leather complementing the navy-blue color. Moreover, the notebook slides into the built-in laptop pocket of the Audley bag with ease thanks to its thin design.

The Geo Bag

A bag that looks similar to the iconic quilted purses of Chanel, the MightyPurse Geo bag comes with a built-in sky charger. Priced at $179, the bag is compact yet spacious enough to fit the Huawei MediaPad 8, the Android’s version of the iPad Mini. To allow it to charge most Apple and Android devices, the geo gadget bag pairing is equipped with iPhone lightning connector and Micro-USB adapters. Other accessories that come with the bag includes a shoulder strap, which increases the portability of the bag.

Powerbag by Ful

A product of Ful, the Powerbag eliminates the need to carry around chargers and electrical adapters. Now, you can leave the additional wiring that comes with your gadgets at home because the built-in power system of the Powerbag will charge all your devices. Equipped with a 3000 Mah battery, the Powerbag can power two smart phones after one full charge.

In addition to smart phones, the bag can also charge laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices. The pockets of the bag are equipped with M2 and Apple connectors with micro and mini USBs. Additionally, they come with a big internal USB port that you can use to charge just about everything you carry with you. The bag has only one con—it weighs more than four pounds, making it heavy to carry.

SkinnyDip Candy Fur

Do electronics in a millennial pink hade make you jump in excitement? If yes, then the Skinnydip Candy Fur bag is the perfect fit for you. Arguably the best gadget-pairing on our list, the Candy Fur bag is paired with the pick thirteen-inch MacBook. Featuring a metallic back that complements the laptop, the laptop sleeve comes in twelve, thirteen and fifteen inch sizes.

Skits Oxford Genius

Are you a frequent flyer? If yes, then the Skits Oxford Genius will help you to pack efficiently and avoid waiting long in security lines. This gadget-bag pairing is the perfect way to organize your gadgets for travel. Flip open the bag, and place your chargers, adapters and cables in a neat and tidy manner in its clear pockets. But, that isn’t the only thing the bag is good for. This bag removes the hassle of carrying a bag with you on your travels. Simply place the Kindle Voyage e-reader in the big right pocket of the Skit case and carry your book easily with you everywhere you go.

PacSafe Backpack

Though it is big and made for security purpose, the PacSafe backpack looks incredibly hip. Priced at $129, the bag is made of lightweight material and features a classy mauve exterior, stylish gold accents, thin padded straps, and a big bubblegum pink interior. A bag for the lady, the PacSafe backpack is unsurprisingly spacious and its grab handles ensure great portability.

This gadget bag is paired with the Samsung Notebook 9. A high-end laptop, the Samsung Notebook 9 won’t hamper your style or weigh down the bag inside its built-in laptop sleeve. Not to forget is the anti-theft technology of the bag. To disarm pickpockets, the bag is equipped with interlocking zipper pullers that come with security clips. Additionally, to discourage people from trying to cut open the bag to steal the laptop, the bag is made of material that features hidden stainless-steel wire mesh.

There are Many More Gadget-Bag Pairings for You to Try

Find the aforementioned-gadget bag pairings cool? If yes, the be glad that these aren’t the only gadget-bag pairings out there. There are many more gadget-bag pairings for you to try and you can find out about them by getting in touch with us, today.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Apple’s new Chicago Store — Practically Invisible

Apple's New Chicago StoreOn Friday, October 20th, Apple, the multi-national tech company, opened its new flagship store in Chicago, Illinois. Founded 41 years ago, Apple boasts 498 retail stores worldwide, the Chicago store being the latest addition. So, what makes the Apple’s new Chicago store so special? Let’s find out!

Located on Michigan Avenue, Apple’s new Chicago store was opened to the public on Friday, October 20th. Called by many as Apple’s ‘most ambitious store’ yet, the new Chicago flagship store connects the Chicago river, Pioneer Court, and North Michigan Avenue. According to Jony Ive, the Chief Design Officer of Apple, the purpose of doing this is to resuscitate significant urban connections within the city.

A New Gathering Place for The Local Community

With the launch of its new flagship store in Chicago, Apple not only hopes to sell more of its latest gadgets, but it also hopes to provide the local community with a gathering place to connect with each other. To rejuvenate the Riverwalk, Apple has built its store on the city’s city-wide initiative. Additionally, to give the city an enterprising new territory that flows smoothly down to the river.

According to Angela Ahrendts, the senior vice president (retail) of Apple, the design and structure of the new flagship store in Chicago is in sync with the company’s vision of providing customers with a store where they can not only experience the latest and best products and services of Apple, but also connect with others in the community and learn something new.

Planned as a gathering place for the local community, Apple’s new Chicago store will be open to the public all year long. It is easy to assume that one fine day, Apple decided to design a new store, and then place it on Michigan Avenue. That wasn’t the case. Instead, to develop a space designed specifically for Michigan Avenue, Apple referenced historical records and worked alongside the local authorities.

A Sight to Behold

While the main purpose of the new store was to provide the local community with a gathering place, Apple did not show any slackness in the design of the store. To put in three words, Apple’s new Chicago store is a sight to behold. As mentioned earlier, the river of Chicago has been a mainstay of the city since long and Apple’s hopes to strengthen this connection by providing new entry to the Riverfront from Pioneer Court via its Michigan Avenue store. To allow the river to be visible from the plaza and beyond, Apple has connected the two on both sides of new store using granite staircases.

A practically invisible store, Apple’s Chicago store boasts a number of features and all of them have the same main purpose: shrinking the dividing line between Chicago city and its river. Four interior pillars support the entire structure, allowing the thirty-two-foot glass fronts to stay lucent. Additionally, the design of the 111×98-foot carbon fiber roof of the building is as thin as it could possibly be.

What do you think is the first thing that catches the eye when you look at Apple’s new Chicago store? It is the mammoth screen. A 6k resolution detached screen, the screen of the new flagship store in Chicago allows you to take in the rest of the store’s beauty by standing with your back to the screen. This is made possible by the doors to the river-walk behind it.

In addition to the mammoth screen, other notable features of the store include the store’s back that houses all the products, the trees that exhibit the Genius Grove, and the balconies reserved for sessions and performances. Once you notice these things, the little things will start to become obvious to you. You’ll notice that the curved glass along the corner is no less than a technological wonder. After all, not many building glasses can stop vehicle crashes of up to seventy-five miles per hour.

But, the marvels of Apple’s new flagship store don’t end here. If you look closely enough, you will also notice the countless white oak slats beneath the carbon fiber roof used to construct the celling. Granite is used for the store’s floors and Castagna Limestone ensures shining white walls. Some well-known brands have also contributed to the store with Hermes delivering all the leather in the store and Mitsubishi design, manufacturing and installing the store’s glass elevator.

While the architectural marvels of the store are all a sight to behold, the most fascinating feature of the store is its heating and cooling system. The system cools and heats the store by pumping water from the Chicago river. Apple hopes that this will ensure a comfortable atmosphere inside while helping keep the environment green.

A Store in the Heart of The City

Ideally located in the heart of the city, Apple’s new Chicago store is present in a well-established city hub. Apple’s hopes to leverage the location of its new flagship store to boost its brand further, turning more people into its loyalists and advocates. Apple, the tech company that prompted us to stare tirelessly at our cell phones, is now asking us to move away from such habits and come together in a shared space to share ideas face-to-face.

The above stance of Apple may seem a bit hypocritical but you can’t deny the fact that Apple is one of the few companies that is actually taking initiative to promote healthy face-to-face interactions between people living in the same community. In the world where our interactions with friends and family have been reduced to emails and WhatsApp messages, this step by Apple is commendable to say the least.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Review of Microsoft’s Surface Book 2

Microsoft Surface Book 2The Holiday Season is almost upon us and Microsoft is welcoming it with the new Surface Book model: the Microsoft Surface Book 2.  Unveiled in October, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 has gotten rid of all the issues in the original model. Here’s more about the all-new Surface Book from Microsoft!

While appallingly expensive, the all-new Surface Book 2 is a sight to behold.  Announced by Microsoft in October, the new Surface Book 2 is a much-improved version of the original Surface Book. Having a hinged design, the laptop comes with new Kably Lake processors, and a variety of storage and RAM configurations. A complete powerhouse, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a beautiful display and a magnesium finish. What else does the new laptop from Microsoft offer? Let’s find out.

Microsoft Surface Book 2: A Feature Full Laptop

The most powerful Surface yet according to Microsoft, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 looks kind of similar to the original Surface Book from the outside but when you lift the hood, you find a faster and much more efficient Surface Book. So, how does the new Microsoft Surface Book compare to the original in terms of design and features? Let’s take a look.

Design of the Microsoft Surface Book 2

To spot the difference in design between the new Surface Book and the original version, you’ll have to look pretty hard—at the Surface Book 2 that is. If you do look hard, the only difference between the two that you’d be able to spot is the more hinged look in the Surface Book 2. A hybrid design, the Surface Book 2 can be used as a laptop or converted into a table by unhitching the screen.

A 15-inch model, Surface Book 2 comes with a USB-C, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, two USB 3.0s, and an SD card reader. The hinged design means that when you lift the hood, and the Surface Book 2’s depth stretches back by almost 20 mm. This allows the laptop to have a superior contact footprint on the surface of your desk, increasing the balance and stability of the system as a whole.

Eye-Catching Display

Microsoft’s Surface displays have always been eye catching and this is evident in the new Surface Book 2 as well. A gorgeous display, the screen of the Surface Book 2 is a screen on which one would happily watch soap operas or wrestling all day long. The display misses the 4k mark by six hundred horizonal pixels but that isn’t to say the 3240×2160 display of the Surface Book 2 is not good enough for video streaming, image editing or web browsing. Unless you stick your face against the screen, there is no chance of you noticing the lack of 600 pixels.

Boasting vibrant colors and excellent contrast, both images and videos look great on the display. In fact, the text is pin-sharp. The Surface 2 also offers great viewing angles, which is excellent news when you consider that the laptop will act partly as a tablet. Bright and detailed, the display of the Surface Book 2 is something Microsoft can be proud of and with this, we move onto the Surface Book 2’s usability.

A Joy to Use

A joy to type on, the keyboard of Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is extremely easy to use. Backlit and having an encouraging amount of depth, each key on the keyboard feels extremely comfortable to press. Compared to the MacBook’s butterfly keys, the keys on the Surface Book 2 offer a lot more feedback, ensuring a better typing experience for users of the all-new Surface Book.

A trackpad can recognize motion and differentiate right clicks from left clicks accurately. Furthermore, the multi-touch trackpad of the Surface Book 2 is slick and works seamlessly. In addition to the multi-touch trackpad, the Surface Book 2 boasts a Surface Pen and Dial. Of the two, the Dial is the more interesting feature. By rotating and clicking this feature, you can scroll or zoom in any application, adjust screen brightness and volume, and change Photoshop brushes. In fact, you can convert the Surface Book 2 into your very own drafting table by pressing the Dial on the screen and holding the Pen in hand.

Impeccable Performer

While the design, display and usability of a laptop matter, the most important thing is always going to be its performance. If you’re looking for a top-performing laptop, then look no further than the Surface Book 2. While the original version wasn’t a bad performer, the new Surface Book beats it hand down in terms of performance. A beefier model, the Surface Book 2 is a fully equipped laptop boasting 1 Terabyte storage, 17GB RAM, and an 8th generation Intel Core i7 central processing unit.

In short, the new Surface Book is fast and it can run complex computer aided design programs without batting an eye. To date, Microsoft’s Surface laptops have been productive for gaming and lightweight photo and video editing,s but the new Surface Book takes that experience to a whole new level. Featuring dedicated Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), the Surface Book 2 has far superior processors than the previous Surface models, making it much more powerful than its predecessors.

Are You Ready to Invest in Microsoft’s Surface Book 2?

Starting at $1,499, the Surface Book 2 is a laptop you’d think twice about before buying, mainly due to the extravagant price tag. But, Microsoft believes the price tag is justified. So, we leave the decision to you. Using the information given above, you can decide for yourself whether paying almost $1,500 for Microsoft Surface Book 2 is worthwhile.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Intel: Computer Chips Will Accelerate AI Revolution

AI RevolutionIntel—The American multinational tech company, has been manufacturing computer chips since 1971. The latest invention of the company are self-learning chips—chips Intel hopes will accelerate the AI revolution. What is the AI revolution and how does Intel plan to accelerate it? Read on to find out!

Believe the popular media about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and you’d be scared to death. According to the popular media and sci-fi films, AI bots are coming to cause havoc and threaten life as we know it. While this may sound a bit farfetched now, it can be a reality at some point in the future—twenty, fifty, hundred or two hundred years from now. But, contrary to what the doomsday advocates say, the AI revolution isn’t all about potential destruction, it is also about improving human life and making things more convenient and accessible. A company hoping to steer the world into that direction is Intel.

The Challenge for Intel and Its AI Chip

Over the years, Intel has lost its reputation as a computer technology leader. However, the company is hoping the self-learning chips—its latest invention, will help bring back the glory days. Typically, tech giants such as Google, Baidu, Facebook and Microsoft use Graphics Process units (GPUs) to indoctrinate their deep neural nets. But, now they’re making to the shift to more specialized chips that they hope will speed up not just the indoctrination of these systems, but also their execution.

Not wanting to be left behind, Intel, the largest manufacturer of computer chips in the world, unveiled its very own AI process in November last year. Named Nervana, the new AI chip was expected to go on sale at the end of the current year. However, that looks unlikely. Now, there are two challenges for Intel. The first challenge is upsetting the market share of nVidia, the current leader in the AI chips market. The second and arguably the tougher challenge is accelerating the AI revolution. How does Intel plan to overcome these challenges? Let’s find out.

Will Intel Overcome the Underlying Challenges and Help Accelerate the AI Revolution

Today, there is an increased demand for processing that outpaces not only classic CPU architectures, but also GPUs. Reason for this is growing need for gathering, evaluating and making decisions from unstructured and highly dynamic natural data. To help meet this growing need and keep pace with the evolving technology, Intel has been working for more than half a decade on specialized architectures that accelerate the existing computing platforms. Additionally, the company has done considerable R & D in neuromorphic computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As part of its efforts to accelerate the AI revolution, Intel recently developed Loihi, a self-learning neuromorphic chip. According to the company, the self-learning chip functions like a human brain in the sense that it can learn from the environment and operate based on that. An AI chip that uses data to learn, Loihi is energy-efficient and it gets smarter over time. The best thing? You don’t need to train it the traditional way.

As AI is still in its infancy, processors such as Loihi will only help accelerate its revolution. Intel takes inspiration from its existing understanding of the brain’s architecture and related computations for neuromorphic computing.

How Intel’s Self-Learning Chip Compares with the Machine Learning Models

By using large-scale training data files to identify events and objects, machine learnings models have made great advancements in recent times. An example of these models is deep learning. However, there is a problem with these models: they do not generalize well unless their training sets specifically rationalize a particular circumstance, element or event.

On the other hand, the benefits offered by self-learning chips—or at least that is what Intel says, are infinite. According to Intel, its neuromorphic based self-learning chips can help you to determine your ‘normal’ heartbeat before going to bed, following a meal, or after jogging. Not only that, it can continue to monitor the incoming heart data to identify and flag patterns that aren’t in sync with the ‘normal’ heartbeat behavior. Moreover, the system can be personalized to fit the needs of the user.

Intel believes that the aforementioned-logic is applicable to many other use cases including cybersecurity. According to the company, its self-leaning chips can prevent a cyberattack by recognizing and reporting the abnormalities in data streams and supporting the early identification of a hack or breach.

The Key Features of Intel’s AI Chip that Can Help Accelerate the AI Revolution

Following are the key features of Loihi—Intel’s new AI chip, that the company hopes will help accelerate the AI revolution:

  • It can function like a human brain
  • It makes machine learning faster and more efficient
  • It combines training and reasoning on a single chip
  • It ensures real-time adaptability of machines
  • It uses fewer resources than deep learning neural networks
  • It has the potential to improve industrial and automotive applications
  • Compared to traditional computing systems, it is a thousand times more energy-efficient
  • It has more than a hundred million synapses and over 120,000 neurons
  • Each neuron can communicate with thousands of other neurons

The aforementioned-list of features is by means exhaustive. Loihi—the new AI chip by intel, has many more features that can help accelerate the AI revolution.

The Way Forward

Each day, AI tasks are becoming more assorted and complicated and this will only increase the challenge for the existing computing architectures. Intel believes that neuromorphic computing is the best way forward. According to the company, as it takes inspiration from the functioning of the human brain, this form of computing is the perfect way to accelerate the AI revolution and make machines more human-like.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Review: Google’s PixelBook Chromebook

Google’s PixelBook Chromebook During its early years, many people were skeptic of the Chromebook. At the time, no one would have imagined, let alone predicted, that Chromebook would be competing with some of the biggest brands out there. But, Google’s Chromebook was always destined to succeed. Even though they had limited functionality, and were heavily reliant on a constant internet connection, the earliest models of the Chromebook managed to strike a chord with schools. Today, Chromebook’s share in American schools is a staggering 58%, a share that Google hopes that PixelBook Chromebook—its latest Chromebook— will increase.

Generally, Chromebooks are thought of as cheaper alternatives to Windows and Mac. But Google hasn’t warmed up to that idea for as long as it has been manufacturing its own Chromebooks. In fact, it has gone a step further and rebelled against the principle. The Pixel Chromebook, the latest Chromebook offering by Google, is far from affordable.

Starting at $999, the all-new Pixel Chromebook would be out of most people’s budget. But, you shouldn’t give up the idea of buying Google’s PixelBook Chromebook so quickly. Instead, consider the features of PixelBook Chromebook before deciding whether or not you should spend ‘over the top’ for the latest Chromebook offering by Google.

Is Google’s New PixelBook Chromebook Worth $999?

For long, Chromebooks have been seen as cheap laptop alternatives but Google’s new PixelBook Chromebook aims to change that. Ranging between $250 and $400, the Chromebook offerings by Google to date have won many plaudits. They’re considered as easy-to-use, efficient and secure laptops that are ideal for educational institutes. But, Google was never going to be satisfied with this. Hoping to give the likes of Windows and Mac a good run for their money, Google has launched a completely modified version of its 2015 Chromebook. Prized at $999, PixelBook Chromebook is the latest Chromebook offering by Google.

Compared to the 2015 offering by Google, the new PixelBook Chromebook has a much more refined design. Featuring a comfortable palm rest made of rubber, the PixelBook Chromebook has a fully aluminum frame. The Chromebook has a 2 in 1 design. This means that it can be stood up for streaming shows or flipped around to convert into a tablet. The Chromebook is quite slim as it has a thickness of just 10.3 mm. Additionally it weighs only 2.4 pounds, making it extremely thin, lightweight and great for carrying around.

Having a squarer look than its predecessors, the PixelBook Chromebook has a slightly unusual 12.3-inch screen. But, this shouldn’t concern you too much. So, what else does Google’s new Chromebook boast? Following are some of the best features of the PixelBook that’ll make you Google ‘Where to buy PixelBook Chromebook from’.

The Super Responsive and Firm Keyboard

One of PixelBook’s nicest elements, the keyboard is firm and super responsive. Compared to the new MacBook Pros, the PixelBook offers a more comfortable typing experience. Unlike the former’s keyboard, the keyboard on Google’s PixelBook Chromebook does not feel hard in the fingers. Soft to touch, PixelBook’s keyboard makes it incredibly easy for you to press any key you want.

An Impressive Glass Trackpad

Superb to say the least, the glass trackpad of Google’s PixelBook would beat the trackpads on most Windows 10 laptops anywhere and on any given day. Having an uncanny resemblance to the trackpads of Apple’s MacBook laptops, Pixelbook’s trackpad is relatively small in size, making it somewhat unique.

The Vibrant Touchscreen

Want a HD experience when viewing websites or videos? If yes, the get Google’s PixelBook Chromebook right away. A 12.3-inch quad high definition 1600p display, PixelBook’s touchscreen offers appreciable contrast between dark and light areas and is always beaming with vibrant colors, making it the ideal touchscreen for viewing flash based websites and high definition videos.

Great Battery Life

The PixelBook Chromebook charges faster than most other laptops and has a better battery life than them. Just a fifteen-minute charge will keep the PixelBook up and running for up to two hours. Isn’t that great?

Laptop Assistance

With the launch of the PixelBook Chromebook, Google has made an intelligent personal assistant available to laptop users. Much more than a voice-only AI, the assistant that comes with the PixelBook can be accessed in three different ways including pressing on the PixelBook pen while moving it on a part of an image or text, saying ‘Ok Google’ or holding down the key devoted for this purpose.

The functions performed by the Assistant are similar to those performed by Siri or Cortana. Nevertheless, it is a great addition to the Chromebook that has the potential to take the ‘laptop experience’ to a whole new level.

A Suite of AppsGoogle Chromebook

You’re used to installing apps to your smartphone or tablet, but have you considered doing the same on your laptop? If not, then Google’s PixelBook will cause you to think about it at the very least. The latest Chromebook offering by Google hosts a multitude of OS and Android apps. A number of Android apps have been integrated into the PixelBook by Google. Some of the notable apps includes Instagram and Snapchat. Whether you like downloading apps or not, you will surely appreciate having a number of apps available to you on the PixelBook Chromebook.

So, What Have You Decided?

We’ve revealed the best features of the Google’s PixelBook Chromebook and it is time for you to make a decision: Are you ready to spend $999 on the latest Chromebook offering by Google? If yes, then waste no time and get the all new- PixelBook Chromebook from your local electronics store or an online store that sells Chromebooks.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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What Is Blockchain and How Can It Benefit the World

BlockchainA technology that has taken the world by storm, Blockchain is an ingenious invention that seeks to change the world. How exactly? Read on to find out!

An invention of a person bearing the pseudonym: Satoshi Nakamoto, blockchain enables the distribution of information over the internet without allowing it to be copied. The blockchain technology has come a long way since it was first introduced. Today, it is the basis for a new type of currency—a digital currency—cryptocurrency.

Ever head of Bitcoin? You probably have! Bitcoin was the reason the blockchain technology was invented. But today, the technology is being used for a lot more. Blockchain is like the internet in the sense that you can use it without knowing how it works. However, finding out how this technology works won’t do you any harm. In fact, it will do you a world of good. So, without wasting any more time, let’s look at how the blockchain technology works.

How the Blockchain Technology Works

Knowing how blockchain works isn’t necessary for using it but a bit of knowledge is always good. So, here you go. We’ll start things off with a definition of blockchain by Don and Alex, two people who co-authored a book on blockchain called ‘Blockchain Revolution’. Following is how they define this technology:

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

The above definition of blockchain gives a good idea of what can be achieved with the technology. But, we won’t leave you guessing instead we’re going to tell you exactly what can be achieved with blockchain. Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at how the technology works.

A type of a distributed database, blockchain is like a mammoth, spreadsheet that is available to users across the globe and can run on millions of computers simultaneously. As it is open source technology, anyone—including you and me, can alter the underlying code and unveil what’s happening. Since it is a true P2P technology, blockchain authenticates or settles transactions without the help of any intermediary at all.

Blockchain is a globally distributed database that uses futuristic cryptography to record any transaction done by you over it. But, what else does this database record? In addition to the transactional data such as who paid who or who married who, it can also record any structured information. The world is fast moving towards the Internet of Things, and as such, having a blockchain system for settlements will soon become necessary or mandatory or however you want to say it. The blockchain technology is going to enable the settlement of trillions of transactions in real-time between connected things—something that banks don’t have the capacity to do. For this reason, the blockchain technology is nothing short of extraordinary.

A platform that promotes trust and truth, blockchain is a stable database of virtual belongings that cannot be hacked. This makes blockchain the ideal transactional technology, not just for the financial-services industry, but also for the society in general. And, the next section is where we discuss how blockchain can benefit the world.

How Blockchain Can Benefit the World

A one of a kind technology, blockchain can be private or public. The popularity of this technology can be gauged by the fact that by 2024, the global blockchain market is expected to be worth over $20 billion and these are just conservative numbers, it could be a lot more! So, what are the qualities of the blockchain technology that are attracting people to it—Not just people from the finance industry, but also people from all professions and walks of life? Without wasting any time, let’s get straight to the answers.

Efficiency

Blockchain is making the world more efficient, and there’s no doubting this. Transactions are settled quickly on blockchain and there’s a reason for it— digitized information is used and no intermediary is required to complete the transactions between the relevant parties. And, the good thigs keep rolling in. In addition to enabling the completion of transactions without an intermediary, blockchain provides the ability to run ‘smart contracts’. To fulfill the criteria mentioned in the contract, these contracts automatically activate commercial actions. This streamlines the processes considerably, which in turn save time and money.

Traceability

One of the major advantages of the blockchain technology is enabling better traceability. With this technology, you can track where an item is currently residing by tracking goods forwarding. And when the item changes hand, any information related to it can be communicated to or from the new handler for possible action.

Security

Blockchain makes transactions more secure, but how exactly? You can as good as assure the authenticity of the information in a blockchain. The reason is that a complex cryptography that is verified independently is used to verify each transaction within the network. One of the keys to unlock the benefits of the Internet of Things (IOT) is authenticated information. To protect IP and verify instructions, the defense industry is currently using a version of blockchain. So, the use of blockchain to ensure security over the internet has already started.

Feedback

The final way blockchain can benefit the world is enabling feedback. Blockchain enables the traceability of a product throughout its lifecycle, allowing manufacturers and designers of the product to manage their products through their life and in turn make them more effective. This is good not just for the manufactures and designers of products, but also for the people using them.

Blockchain technology is changing the world, and the sooner you move to it, the better it will be for you. The reasons are given above.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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Apps for Finding Food and Voting for Your Favorite Places to Eat

Apps Finding FoodGot a Smartphone or Tablet? If yes, then that alone is enough for you to find food and vote for your favorite places to eat. Today, there are a whole host of apps that quickly direct you to the best restaurants in an area. But, that isn’t all these apps do. They also offer you discounts, advise you on what dish to order and allow you to vote for your favorite restaurants. So, what’s to achieve from these apps? Let’s find out.

Fulfill Your Insatiable Need for Food with These Apps

Considering the food and dietary limitations in the world today, it is no surprise that people become irked when they’re hungry and in an alien location. The good news is that there are food apps today that can help you to meet your insatiable need for food in any location. Finding a great dining-out place in your area should not be a problem for you. But, you’ll have to do a bit of work to find out about the restaurants that only recently opened or find a suitable place to eat in a foreign location or an area you just moved to.

There is so much that cellphones apps can do for your and this includes helping you to fulfill your insatiable need for food. Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, there are a whole host of apps that you can use to find theme-based, upscale or just darn delicious restaurants. So, without wasting any further time, let’s take a look at the best apps for meeting your food cravings.

The Best Food Finder Apps

There’s no shortage of excellent food apps in the Android or iOS App Store. However, following are the five best apps for finding restaurants in a location, checking their ratings and leaving a review for your favorite dine-out place.

Urbanspoon

When it comes to user-reviewed restaurant listing sites, there’s no name bigger than Urbanspoon, a broad directory that you can search using a range of filters. Some filters that you can search by include free wi-fi, kid-friendly, price, cuisine, and suburb. Got GPS in your phone? Shake it to get a random restaurant in a random, or chosen area. Finally, you can share your review and pictures and add restaurant to your ‘wishlist’ by creating your own Urbanspoon profile.

YumTable

This is one food app that you need to look out for. This app allows you to search for restaurants, claim discounts and reserve tables. With the mission of making fine dining affordable, YumTable offers introductory discounts to users after they download and sign up with the app.

Food Truck Follower

You don’t necessarily need to look for upscale restaurants to find great food in an area. Some of the best food today comes from hawker stands present around town. Unlike the fine-dine restaurants, these road side eateries are focused and dedicated to deliver the best food and service to each and every customer that visits them. You can use the Food Truck Follower app to find food trucks in a location.

OpenTable

This app is available to users of iOS devices. A free to download app, OpenTable is designed to make restaurant reservations easier. The app supports more than thirty thousand restaurants. In addition to allowing you to view menus and user ratings, this app ensure real time availability and in-app reservation. Some of the popular features of this app include email integration, list of nearby restaurants, and dining reward points. Additionally, new features have been added to the app including user reviews, a restaurant finder, reward points and popular dishes at each restaurant.

Dining Deals

At times, finding a restaurant is as difficult a task as finding inexpensive food. This is a problem that dining deals solves. A smartphone app that you download to an android or iOS device, Dining Deals helps you to find inexpensive restaurants in a location so that you can save some money.

Foodspotting

A free iOS app that works like Urbanspoon, Foodspotting is designed to help you find new restaurants. Unlike Urbanspoon, Foodspotting takes a visual approach—the app displays pictures of food and dishes at restaurants uploaded/submitted by users. The quality of the image depends entirely on the users uploading the image. However, the app does have plenty of drool-worthy food pics for you to gaze at. You can use this app to look up a restaurant by name to see what it looks like and what people are saying about it. A unique app, Foodspotting has an eye-catching interface. Some other noticeable features of this app include dish reviews, and multiple-third party camera features.

Yelp

If you’re looking for a place to eat, then you just have to download the Yelp app. A free app, Yelp will help you find restaurants based on your location, and food, price and atmosphere preferences.

The Taste App

A recent arrival, the Taste app is available to users of iOS devices. The App helps you to find the best places to eat and drink through the locals. Locals vote for their favorite in each restaurant/food category. Even you can vote on this app if you think your vote will help people find a good place to eat. This app does not allow reviews or one-to-five star ratings. Instead, it ranks restaurants based on how many people voted for them. So, if you like a restaurant, download the Taste app and vote for them there.

Today, finding a place to eat and drink is easier than ever and you can easily show you love and admiration for a particular restaurant. Download the above-mentioned apps today to find good places to eat and drink and vote for your favorite eatery.

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Percento is a Professional IT Consulting, Implementation and Management firm.  To find out how we can help your organization, please contact one of our friendly sales representatives for a review of your system and a comprehensive (No Obligation) proposal of services. Call today toll-free at 800.614-7886 [Austin | Houston | The Woodlands | Dallas | San Antonio] or email us at sales@percentotech.com.

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